THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN
|President||James N. Giridlian||Editorial Secretary||Victoria Padilla|
|Vice President||Charles A. Wiley||Membership Secretary||Jeanne Woodbury|
|Treasurer||Jack M. Roth||Art Editor||Morris Henry Hobbs|
Mrs. B. E. Roberts, President, Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society|
Lawrence Hiscock, President, Louisiana Bromeliad Society
Jack M. Roth, President, The Bromeliad Guild of Los Angeles
Robert Wilson, President, South Florida Bromeliad Society
|Board of Directors|
David Barry, Jr.
Nat de Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Morris H. Hobbs
E. H. Palmer
Jack M. Roth
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood
Mrs. Adda Abendroth
Monsieur Charles Chevalier
Mulford B. Foster
A. B. Graf
Charles H. Lankester
Richard Oeser, M. D.
Kirchzarten, Brsg, West Germany
P. Raulino Reitz
Dr. Lyman B. Smith
A drawing of Tillandsia didisticha approximately life size. This beautiful small Tillandsia was collected in San Ignacio, Bolivia, at an altitude of 1300 feet, by Mr. Ira S. Nelson, Professor of Horticulture at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, during one of his several plant collecting trips to Bolivia. The main inflorescence extends from the center of the leaves, while numerous smaller inflorescences appear in the axils of the leaves. Bracts are a soft rose, while the tiny flowers are pure white. After several months, this plant is still blooming, and additional bracts are pushing up from some of the outer leaf axils, while offshoots are forming around the base. —M. H. Hobbs
No article appearing in this bulletin may be reproduced without the permission of the editor.
LOOKING BACKWARDSHE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN A NOTABLE ONE for the Bromeliad Society in many ways. Interest in bromeliads has definitely increased, and from all parts of the world we hear from growers eager to learn more about this family of plants. News has just reached us from Czechoslovakia that there are plantsmen who wish to organize a bromeliad society in that country. Another group has joined the list of affiliates — this, the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, with headquarters in Auckland, where enthusiasm for these plants has always run high.
Our members, too, are working hard with their plants. Many have become expert hybridists and are producing bromeliads which promise to have a great future. Others have gone searching into the tropics and returned with new species that are both exciting and beautiful.
Our bulletin has maintained its high standard, thanks to the contributors and to the fact that we have finally been able to introduce color, a not inconsiderable undertaking for a non-profit horticultural group. Our colored illustrations, however, have been possible only because of the kindness of certain members who have made them financially possible. Our deepest thanks go to the Bromeliad Guild of Los Angeles; The South Florida Bromeliad Society of Miami; Jack O. Holmes of Tampa, Florida; Ed Hummel of Carlsbad, California; and David Barry, Jr., of Los Angeles, California. Because of their generosity we shall be able to continue the practice of having colored illustrations in the issues for the coming year.
There are also a number of other people to whom we are indebted for their work on behalf of the Society. They are Morris Henry Hobbs, for his superb covers, which raise the bulletin to a level not to be surpassed by any other comparable publication; Dr. Lyman B. Smith, for his continued interest and support and his splendid articles; Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, for taking care of the arduous task of membership secretary; James N. Giridlian, for handling the mailing of the bulletins; Jack Roth, for taking care of the treasury; Mrs. Leo Goerth for her work as Seed Chairman; and Mulford B. Foster, for his continued assistance and interest. Without these fine members of the Society would not be able to exist. They are all extremely busy people, but they give unceasingly of their time of which they have little to spare.
The year 1962 was not without its disappointments, however. We had hoped to publish a new edition of the Handbook—a larger and better book with many more illustrations—but lack of time prevented our doing this and we have had to be satisfied with a reprinting for the time being. We had also wanted to print an index for Volumes VI through X of the Bulletin, and Dr. Smith has worked hard and long on this project, but it will be another few months before this task can be accomplished.
There are still too few members who take an active part in the Society. An organization such as ours should be a mutual group, a give-and-take affair, in which ideas and points of view are exchanged, discussed, and commented upon. A bulletin such as ours should not be the reflection of the thinking and experiences of just a few members, as it is now, for the picture presented is too one-sided and does not consider the problems of growers who do not make their failures or successes known.
The questionnaire sent to the members in 1961 asked them to list the subjects they wanted to see included in the Bulletin. The following is a partial list of the suggestions received.
- Descriptions of plants in their native habitat.
- How to get plants to set seed.
- How to hybridize.
- When to collect seed.
- The relation of bromeliads to their environment.
- Stories by collectors.
- Forcing of blooms.
- How to work under poor city conditions with artificial light.
- Descriptions of new imports.
- How to handle seed, how long to leave on plant, etc.
- Landscaping with bromeliads.
- Notes on time required for various species to bloom and seed.
- A check list of bromeliad hybrids.
- Description of gardens and greenhouses.
- Use of plastic versus glass for greenhouses.
- Developing hybrids and the selection of which types are most suitable for crossing.
- History of bromeliads.
- Unusual bromeliads.
- Where bromeliads can be seen.
- Personal experiences growing bromeliads.
- A key to the commoner genera of bromeliads written in such a way that a non-botanist can use it.
- How to get plants to set seed.
HOW I BECAME INTERESTED IN BROMELIADS
MRS. H. G. MARZEVERAL YEARS AGO A GARDENING FRIEND started me down the bromeliad path with a single Billbergia nutans. I was not completely captivated by this plant, but as is my habit with all new plant material, I studied all I could about the group.
This interest proved to be valuable later on when during a visit to a cactus garden I saw Bromelia balansae in radiant bloom and had to have it for my own. The person in charge of the garden spoke little English, and my Spanish carried me through to que nombre? with no results at all. However, I had to have this beauty, which I felt sure was a member of the pineapple group.
I was fortunate enough to be able to get this plant and put it in a pot. It took to potting easily, remaining more red than green and putting out two side shoots. When we moved to Chatsworth, California, I put Bromelia balansae in the ground, planting it in full sun and giving it excellent drainage consisting of all the rocks, trash, and debris abounding on our property. This was in May; in August it started to bloom.
Also on the same mound are Dyckia fosteriana and two other as yet unidentified sun bromeliads. The rest of my bromels are under improvised shade or indoors until we put in the patio roof and the trees give more shade. It is by turns either hot, dry, or windy here in Chatsworth, but the sun bromels do very well with one or two sprinklings a day.
— 9672 Laramie Ave., Chatsworth, California
LYMAN B. SMITHNE OF THE EASIEST GROUPS OF BROMELIADS to distinguish is that of the watch spring or helicoid Billbergias, because their tightly recoiled petals are unique in the family (see fig. 1). In fact some botanists have favored separating them as a genus, Helicodea, but intermediates with true Billbergia, like B, brasiliensis, make this separation appear undesirable.
Beside their curious petals, the helicoid Billbergias have a number of other characters in common. Their few leaves form a long tubular rosette, their scape-bracts are very large and a beautiful shade of rose, and their inflorescence is always simple and usually pendent. In fact there are so many similarities that we have little left to distinguish the species from each other except the shape of the sepals and the ovary. However, as a sort of compensation, these vary more than in most other bromeliad genera.
|Figures all natural size. Fig. 1: Billbergia zebrina (complete flower); fig. 2: B. rosea (ovary and sepals); fig. 3: B. venezuelana (ovary and sepals); fig. 4: B. violacea (ovary and sepals); fig. 5: B. meyeri (floral bract, ovary and sepals); fig. 6: B. alfonsi-joannis (sepal); fig. 7: B. decora (ovary and sepals); fig. 8: B. brasiliensis (complete flower); fig. 9: B. magnifica (floral bract, ovary and sepals); fig. 10: B. macrolepis (floral bract, ovary and sepals); fig. 11: B. rubicunda ovary and sepals); fig. 12: B. cylindrostachya (ovary and sepals); fig. 13: B velascana (ovary and sepals); fig. 14: B. porteana (ovary and sepals); fig. 15: B. cardenasii (floral bract, ovary and sepals); fig. 16: B. pallidiflora (ovary and sepals).|
The oldest cultivated helicoid on record is Billbergia zebrina (fig. 1) published in 1826 as a Bromelia in plate 2686 of the "Botanical Magazine" and transferred to Billbergia the next year. It is also one of the easiest to recognize because of its top shaped ovary with large protuberances above that soon lose the white down covering the rest of the ovary and the sepals. The bare areas are very dark, giving the effect of a ring of black spots around the swollen top of the ovary. The green to yellow petals are not particularly noteworthy, but the snowy white covering of the remainder of the inflorescence plus the brilliant rose scape-bracts make this a most attractive species for cultivation. It is a native of eastern Brazil.
Their warty sepals and ovary distinguish B. rosea and B. venezuelana from other helicoids, and this character although not unique with them is at least very rare elsewhere among bromeliads. B. rosea (fig. 2) has narrowly triangular unequal sepals and floral bracts that are not more than 4 mm. long. It was described by Beer in 1857 from cultivated material from Trinidad but seems to have died out since. B. venezuelana (fig. 3) has elliptic equal sepals and at least the lowest floral bracts are long and exceed the sepals. It is a relative newcomer, having been described by Mez in 1914, and is still known in cultivation.
Billbergia violacea and B. meyeri have long tapering sepals unlike the remaining helicoids that we have to consider. B. violacea (fig. 4) has a long open inflorescence and short floral bracts. Like B. rosea, it was described by Beer in 1857 from cultivated material and has disappeared since, although wild plants have been collected in Guiana. B. meyeri (fig. 5) is a native of eastern Bolivia and interior Brazil where Mulford Foster found it showing a preference for palm "boots". Its floral bracts are large and it has the shortest most compact inflorescence of all the helicoids.
The remaining helicoids all have broad sepals with broad tips, but B. alfonsi-joannis, discovered and described by our honorary trustee, Padre Raulino Reitz, has a three-pointed sepal (fig. 6) unmatched in bromeliads. The unusual hyphenated specific name is in honor of his two brothers and fellow padres. The species is one of the handsomest of all Billbergias but unfortunately Padre Reitz has not been able to propagate it to any extent.
Billbergia decora, (fig. 7) and B. brasiliensis (fig. 8) have evenly rounded ovaries, while those of all the remaining species are prominently grooved and ridged. B. decora was discovered in Peru by Poeppig on his Amazonian expedition in 1829, but it did not reach cultivation until later under the name of B. baraquiniana. Its petals are green and form the typical tight coils. B. brasiliensis on the other hand, has dark blue petals that vary greatly in their amount of coiling. It was originally described as B. leopoldii, but as that name had already been used for another species, this one had to be given a new name.
The lower flowers of Billbergia magnifica and B. macrolepis are subtended by large bracts. B. magnifica (fig. 9) is a native of Paraguay and southern Brazil and has rather rounded sepals, where B. macrolepis (fig. 10) of Central America and northwestern South America has broadly ovate acute sepals. Both are relatively recent arrivals, dating from 1903 and 1936 respectively.
Billbergia rubicunda (fig. 11) stands out because of its glabrous axis, but its cylindrical ovary and equally large elliptic sepals are also distinctive. Mez named this one in 1916 from material cultivated in Vienna but did not know where it was native.
Billbergia cylindrostachya and B. velascana have blue or violet petals, where the remaining species, B. porteana, B. cardenasii and B. pallidiflora, all have yellow or green ones. B. cylindrostachya (fig. 12) has rounded apiculate sepals and a cylindric ovary, while the sepals are acute and the ovary stoutly ellipsoid in B. velascana (fig. 13, see Bromeliad Society Bulletin, vol. 7, p. 35). B. cylindrostachya was one of Glaziou's numerous discoveries described by Mez. It came from Rio but whether it was native or cultivated there we do not know as it has not been collected since. I strongly suspect that B. maxima (see Bromeliad Society Bulletin, vol. 4, p. 39) is the same as B. cylindrostachya, but so far have been unable to verify.
In Billbergia porteana (fig. 14) the lower part of the flower has an hourglass figure because of the large epigynous tube (epi, upon, and gynous, ovary) between the ovary and the unusually short broad sepals. This is another species described by Beer in 1857. It is a native of eastern Brazil and is well known both in the wild and in cultivation.
Billbergia cardenasii (fig. 15) of Bolivia has clear yellow petals and equal sepals, while B. pallidiflora (fig. 16) of Mexico has green petals and unequal sepals. B. cardenasii was described in 1953 from material sent us by Dr. Cardenas, and does not appear to be well known in cultivation yet. B. pallidiflora was described in 1854 by Liebmann, a famous plant explorer of Mexico and Central America, but until recently it has not been known in cultivation.
— Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
LEE MOOREHE AMAZON holds captive within its power the last remaining frontier in the world. Not only the main river, but its thousands of miles of tributaries are enclosed in impenetrable rain forests. This is a mysterious and fantastic wonderland, garbed in lush tropical foliage and inhabited by flora, fauna, and unusual Indians not yet revealed to the civilized world.
It is because of the great mystery that surrounds much of the plant life in this region that my wife Helen and I decided some months ago to move to Peru, and we now make our residence in the little town of Iquitos, which is in the center of this great expanse of unknown. It has been our dream to uncover some of the hidden treasures of this fairyland garden and capture its beauty in motion pictures and color slides. Only a couple of years ago I found the location of Aechmea chantinii, which had been lost after its first discovery. Shortly afterwards I found a new species of Neoregelia with interesting curly leaves which today is known as N. mooreana. These are just two outstanding finds from this area, and there are many more pending identification.
Just a few weeks ago, a half day's travel by canoe, Helen and I found an unfamiliar Aechmea, one that displayed the most beautiful orange and red inflorescence that we had ever seen. What is it? We will call it No. 200 until it is identified. We also found another Aechmea, similar to A. nidularioides but much larger. What is it? We will call this one No 150. On each collection trip to the Amazon we find different plants. Helen and I certainly have a task ahead of us there are so many rivers and places to explore that it will take us years to see just a few of them.
The different forms of each species tend to be very confusing, as the appearance of a species differs from place to place. Aechmea chantinii is one that caused quite a bit of controversy among the experts because of the wide variation of its clones. Each small tributary had a different clone of this plant. Before I found these plants in the jungle, there had been only one clone that was known to the world. But now I have found at least eight definite different clones of this species, some of which grow to tremendous sizes. In fact, I had trouble selling my first plants (for under one dollar), as people could not believe that the long lost Aechmea chantinii had at last been found.
Last year I obtained from a river man a dozen or so plants of a new type that looked somewhat like Aechmea chantinii, but was distinctly different with very hard elongated leaves with soft banding and a beautiful inflorescence of vivid pink having the same form as that of A. chantinii, but longer lasting and much larger and more striking. This plant has come to be known as A. 'Pink Goddess.' It is now our problem to obtain more of these plants, but we have no idea where they may be found.
|In the tropics, bromeliads often cover the trees so completely that the foliage cannot be discerned.|
The powerful Amazon with all of its tremendous force cuts away tons of mud and sand from its banks each year. I have watched banks of forty feet in height slide down into the boiling mass of muddy water, cutting deeper in the jungle, only to be carried downstream to build up another part. A mighty tree towering 200 feet is a breath-taking sight as it crashes down into the water with its roots like claws attempting to cling to the last remaining bit of muddy bank upon which it had been growing perhaps one thousand years or more. A tree such as this — adorned with anthuriums and philodendrons, orchids and bromeliads — is left to rot as it is slowly swept downstream toward the Atlantic. Such is the fate of much of the plant life along the banks of the Amazon.
I have flown at low altitude over these jungles, some of which are not even broken by a river or a stream for hundreds of miles. Flying at low altitudes, I can see clusters of bromeliads and orchids in bloom in fantastic arrays of colors and in bountiful amounts. Some can be recognized, but others are completely new. Colors of bright red and orange nestled in the tree tops seem so near, but are yet so far. Many of these areas are out of range of even a helicopter.
Traveling along the rivers, which is the only feasible way to penetrate the jungles, is discouraging as we see unfamiliar types of bromeliads and orchids inhabiting only the highest branches of trees which are absolutely unclimbable. Smooth trunks, sometimes fifteen feet in diameter, and limbs beginning above seventy-five feet make it impossible for us to obtain even samples of the desired plant. It is not exactly impossible, however, as my local handy man, Elroy, always wants to get a crew of men to cut the tree down. But each time I have to say no as I cannot bring myself to take the responsibility of destroying something which has been alive for the last one thousand years or more. And there is always the possibility that we will find some of the same plants in lower trees or find one of the big trees which nature has already toppled.
It is not an easy task, however, to collect bromeliads and orchids on trees which can he scaled. Elroy, who was raised in the jungle, can climb most of the trees just like a monkey if the tree is festooned with vines, but he must always be careful not to slip on damp moss which covers; so much of the vegetation.
A machete is used to cut the plants from the tree, and wherever it is possible the plants are just thrown to the ground. It is no ease job to round up these plants, as often they get caught in intervening branches or get lost in the underbrush, so we generally try to let the plants down by rope. One time we found a gigantic Aechmea (the species has not yet been determined) not too high in a tree but welded to the trunk as if it were steel. I just had to have this bromel. There were three plants attached together, each one being four feet high, equally as wide, and weighing over one hundred pounds in all. Elroy tied a rope to the base of the plant and secured it to the trunk of the tree so it would not crash to the ground after he had freed it from the tree. As the huge plant tilted over, down came a shower upon us of gallons of water with frogs and lice and I don't know what all. Recently I climbed to a new bromeliad find and looked into the crown to see if there was an inflorescence coming. What happened to be there was a great big nest of wasps which came swarming out after me. Luckily the tree was small and I was able to jump to the ground and run.
I have often been asked about the big snakes that make the jungle their home. Snakes are the least danger of all and are hardly ever encountered, and even then are nothing to worry about. They are in the jungle, all right, and the Bushmaster and the Fer de Lance and the Coral are just as poisonous as anything alive, but they are very seldom seen and avoid people when they can. Unlike in the movies the big Boas and Anacondas do not drop out of the trees and strangle the unsuspecting traveler. I found they are not to be feared and are all quite interesting to watch.
About the most dangerous thing for me is falling out of a tree, as there is no prescribed orthodox method of climbing because each tree is different. Sometimes I can climb up a vine or shoot a rope over a limb with a bow and arrow. Other times I have to climb an adjoining tree and cross over to the other. We even have had to cut down a smaller tree to fall against the larger one to provide a way up to the plants.
There is also always the continual hazard and war with insects. There is a small elongated ant, named the Tingoterre, which is always encountered and stings rather than bites. Every collection trip results in several stings from these ants without fail. They just cannot be avoided because they are hard to see and they make their nests right in the clusters of plants that we are collecting. Although their sting is extremely painful, it lasts for only a half hour or so.
There is another ant which by far is the worst one to be found in the jungle and is most dreaded by the natives. Known as the Isula, it is a very large black shiny insect of about 1-inch to 1˝ inches long with a fat round abdomen from which is produced a stinger almost as long as the ant itself. The sting is like an electric shock and is so great that it could easily knock a man out of a high tree. The pain lasts for two days.
And then there are the termites which build huge nests on the branches and trunks of trees. If one should accidentally step on such a nest, the insects will swarm out of their retreat by the thousands, getting into one's hair, eyes, nose, and clothes — a very uncomfortable experience to be sure, although not painful.
Bees and hornets are also a problem. There are the little black bees which will swarm out of their nests when a person approaches and get tangled in his hair and clothes. Fortunately, their sting is negligible. This is not true of the Avispa, a hornet similar to those in the United States but much larger. No matter how hard we try to avoid these insects, we still run into their nests and get painfully stung.
Besides insects, there is also a vegetable problem. In some areas there is a moss which grows on the tree trunks. If a person should accidentally brush against this moss, he will cause the moss to emit a powder which sticks to the skin causing an itching irritation. Then there is the razor grass which can actually cut clothing. It hangs out of the trees, and if one should brush by just one blade, it will get a hold on the clothes and before the unfortunate person knows, he is entangled in a mass of grass. The fabled man-eating plant probably was derived from the grass, as it actually seems to move and grab for a person. Some of the palm trunks are covered with sharp spines, and the spines of a fallen trunk are capable of penetrating shoes — which can be both dangerous and extremely painful.
|Bromeliads are often amazing in the way they will cling to the most precarious of perches.|
|Back from the jungle with a nice collection of Guzmania vittata.|
All in all, collecting plants is no easy job. Some of the bromeliads grow in tight clusters which are difficult to pry from the trees, especially if the collector is in a precarious position on a limb of the tree. Sometimes it takes up to half an hour to get one plant down and sometimes half a day working in one tree. Often bromeliads are the sites of ant nests, and before a person knows it he finds ants crawling all over him. When a plant is covered with ants the only thing to do is to make a quick cut and grab, then shake the ants off, and go at it again until the plant is finally freed.
Once collected from the tree, the plants are still a long way to the States. Some of the bromeliads are very large, which presents a problem of getting them out of the jungle. Usually when we have a lot to carry, we cut vines and tie the plants together and hang them over a pole which is carried between two men, while the smaller plants are carried in plastic bags. The bags that we use are tropical fish bags, which are used to transport the live fish from the Amazon to Florida. These bags are very practical for collecting plants, as they are smooth and it is easy to take the plants out again without breaking the leaves. Then the plants are loaded into our canoe and some are tied on the thatched roof of the canoe and carried to our nursery in Iquitos to be cleaned, trimmed, and grown for a while before shipping.
In August I drove my Volkswagen bus from Lima over the Andes. This is one trip about which I could write a book — the breath-taking sights, the 5,000-foot sheer drops on one-way roads and meeting trucks head on, and then the experience of the transmission going to pieces and having to wheel down the mountain without power, dropping from 9,000 feet to 3,000 feet and traveling 35 miles in this way. On this trip I had collected a load of beautiful new plants in the low jungle side of the mountains, which I was going to ship from Yucaipa to Iquitos by air because the road ends in Pucalpa. My car was to go the rest of the way by barge down the Amazon.
I had made my reservations with the airline and was assured passage. I then drove 60 miles to another town, where I knew some people who could give me a place to care for the plants until the plane was ready to leave five days later. I had to find boxes in which to pack my plants, but finding cardboard boxes is always a problem and they always have to be bought at very high prices. The day before the plane was to leave, I spent packing the plants and left for Pucalpa and the airport in the night. However, it rained that night and I got stuck in the road, and when I finally got on my way, the plane had already left.
So I had to go back to where I had started, unpack all of the plants, and wait five more days for the next plane after making new reservations by radio. I made the plane this time and unloaded 800 pounds of plants on the runway. I saw my name on the passenger list and was happy to know that in that day I would be back in Iquitos. A friend was to put the car on the barge after I left. When the time came to get on the plane, the agent told me that there were no more seats. I found that he had taken my name from the list and put someone else in my place who had offered him a little more money than I had. Well, I was certainly upset, but there was nothing to do, but unload the plants, and wait five more days. I began inquiring and found a Peruvian Air Force major who called Lima by radio and informed the head office of the airline as to what had happened so in five days I was on the plane. An anticipated ten-day trip ended being a three-week trip. This is not just one isolated experience, but is typical of most that I have encountered in this part of the world.
As I am typing this, I am in a little hotel room that looks like a broken-down jail, with the plaster falling off the walls, a dirty straw mattress for a bed, and no water or facilities. I have behind me in the room several thousand plants spread over the floor because the rain had made the airstrip so muddy that no plane could land or take off. How long I will be here. I don't know. Each time a plane is anticipated, I have to have the plants packed and ready to go. The only transportation in this town is by horse cart, so at the last minute I will have to run around and look for a cart, which will probably break down on the way and cause me to miss the only plane.
The plants in the room with me are the results of a four-day walking trip into the jungle. On this trip I carried with me one helper and a jungle hammock in which were rolled a few necessities such as rice and beans and hard bread and, most important of all, bags with which to collect plants. On this trip I was successful in finding in good numbers Cattleya rex, Oncidium papilio, Scuticaria steelii. Among the bromeliad: my most outstanding find was the gigantic and strikingly painted Guzmania lindenii, which grows in the ground to a height of five and six feet. I found a new type of Guzmania with a very nice inflorescence — but only one plant. From this plant I will have to try to produce seed for the future if I cannot find any more. I also found a striking new Tillandsia which I number No. 310. This plant has an outstanding form and a beautiful showy light baby pink inflorescence. I am eager to get this bromeliad identified, as I have never seen another like it. Of course, the trip also produced hundreds of other plants, some of merit and others just of interest — which is the case in every such trip.
Getting plants like these out of the deep jungle is a problem even after they have been collected and trimmed. I found a village nearby and hired three men to make three big baskets of palm leaves four feet high and three feet wide. I carefully packed the plants into these baskets with no room to spare, and they were then carried on the backs of the men over the twenty miles of jungle trails to the town from which I had come. Carrying the gigantic Guzmanias was difficult, but with this method the plants arrived in town with hardly a broken leaf. But the problem of getting them to Iquitos is still ahead and must be solved next. Well, here I am stuck with all of my plants because my plane was canceled.
Well, well, guess what? I just received word while sitting here typing that an empty plane is flying near here from the coast to the place where I was to connect with the other flight to Iquitos earlier today. The plane is carrying only a corpse so there is plenty of room for me. Arrangements have already been made for it to pick me up. It is late in the day and I have already missed the scheduled flight from Lima to Iquitos, but at least I will be there for the next schedule next week and also that much closer to home. I have only an hour to prepare, so I must get to packing my plants again.
— Casilla 498. Iquitos, Peru.
T IS THIS WRITER'S BELIEF that to appreciate the full beauty of a plant one should see it in a setting that to some degree simulates its natural habitat. True, a bromeliad makes a handsome pot specimen, but its effectiveness is often enhanced when it is placed in a planting with other genera that could well be its companions in its native home.
With this in mind, the writer so designed her greenhouse that the central portion, a section of approximately six feet by twenty feet, would be jungle-like in appearance. The above photo shows a small area in which bromeliads are happily growing with an assortment of other greenhouse plants. It is interesting to note that Vrieseas, Aechmeas, Billbergias, Neoregelias, and Guzmanias all seem to thrive planted in this very rich, well-drained soil. Although close to the floor, the bromels receive good light and air circulation and do not mind their lowly position under large limbs of trees on which grow Tillandsias and orchids and which also serve as supports for vines. A similar planting could easily be duplicated in a planter in a home.
|Photos by Holmes|
|Bromeliads growing in a Florida garden.|
ROGER K. TAYLORLOSE TO KENNETT SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA, and not many miles from Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, is a large estate which belongs to Pierre du Pont. Years ago he had a group of greenhouses built there, in which were grown a large variety of ornamental plants, shrubs, espaliered fruit trees, etc; and the public was given the privilege of visiting the place. Upon the death of this public-spirited man, the provisions of his will established a generous endowment for the Longwood Foundation, to continue and even enlarge the operations of Longwood Gardens. Its director is Dr. Russell J. Seibert, previously a vice-president and now a director of our own Society.
The extensive grounds contain formal and informal gardens, beautiful displays of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. It is the glass-houses, however, that are the chief attraction for the throngs that come to visit; these are open every day of the year from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. The main conservatory is always a mass of bloom, varieties depending on the season; potted plants at the blooming stage are plunged into the beds so as to look as if they had been growing there permanently.
For a number of years there were only a few bromeliads on display in the houses open to the public. Such others as they had were in the experimental, plant-introduction greenhouses. Now, however, the majority of the bromeliads are in one of the houses in the main range, where visitors may enjoy them. They are also to be found scattered among other plants in other locations; there is a group in the alcove housing the main orchid display, others are in the desert and tropical houses. In the latter, a "tree" with both orchids and bromeliads shows the natural habit of these plants. For quite a while the planting in the Information Center at the entrance was almost entirely bromeliaceous.
In the main, the kinds to be seen are those of horticultural merit, rather than botanical oddities or rarities. Additions and deletions are constantly being made. According to a letter of February, 1961, to our secretary, there were at that time 184 species or varieties in 22 genera. No doubt this number has been increased since then. The ideal growing conditions of light, temperature, and humidity are reflected in the breath-taking beauty of the plants, individually and en masse. The visiting, bromeliad-fancier will assuredly enjoy, but unless he has a greenhouse of his own may despair of matching, the color, size, and vigor of this choice collection.
— 3122 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 18. Maryland.
MULFORD B. FOSTERHE DESCRIPTION OF THIS STRIKING VRIESEA as given in the Gardener's Chronicle in 1859, on page 388, tells of a beautiful Vriesea that was first collected by Dr. Cruger in 1845 in Trinidad.
To quote: "This very noble bromeliad was exhibited at the last meeting of the Horticultural Society from the Hon. James F. Stuart Wortley. It had been presented to the late Lord Wharncliffe when in the West Indies three years ago. Its native place was the Maracas Waterfall in Trinidad. It is certainly a Vriesea, with which the whole structure of the flower, as well as the remarkable habit, corresponds. We have only seen flower-buds and therefore are unable to describe the flowers satisfactorily, but as they have a nearly superior ovary, long sepals, and a pair of dimidate scales at the base of the petals, no doubt can exist about the genus. The leaves are 18 inches or more long; the flower scape nearly 4 feet from the base to the tip of the branches, closely covered up to the branches with pale green concave scales deeply stained with blood-red blotches. The branches of the flower stem are from 14 to 18 inches long, covered closely with glutinous bracts, the colour of a boiled lobster, but much brighter because of the natural varnish which is spread over them. There is scarcely a stove plant, certainly none of the same order, with a more noble aspect than this".
We were equally affected, in May 1960, when this Vriesea flowered in our Bromelario, for the first time in the U.S.A. From all the published records that we have, including the one above, it seems in each instance that the plant has been collected just before or just after the flowering period, and thus, little actual observation of the flowers themselves has been made in all these years.
The plants, natively, grow near the Maracas Falls in Trinidad where they enjoy a daily "mist-bath" as they cling to the perpendicular cliff, defying capture.
Dr. Thomas Aitken with Dr. Wilbur Downs, also found this Vriesea at an elevation of 1800 feet in the wettest parts of the island with a rainfall of up to 150 inches annually. Some of the plants were nearly six feet high to the top of the inflorescence.
Whether in flower or not, this plant is a most beautiful and decorative one, and is an excellent subject for the greenhouse. Knowing its preference for a daily "mist-bath", I feared that it would not succeed very well far from its selective habitat, but this was not the case. Of course, it may not grow as large, away from home, but this may be an advantage in most greenhouses. If given plenty of water and light and a very porous potting material, containing crushed rock (poultry grit), it is easily grown.
The branched inflorescence, with its 'boiled lobster" colored spikes, is spectacular; the almost hidden, red to orange flowers do not issue far beyond the bracts. They appear in the morning and are gone by the afternoon, and if the spikes are not sprayed daily all of the flowers may not develop.
A very interesting feature of the inflorescence is the fact that all of the branches appear to come out from one side of the scape This is a tendency of other cliff-dwelling plants observed, where, often most of the roots develop on the cliff side of the plant and the branches naturally tend to reach out away from the rocks. The plumose appendage of the seed of this species is unusually small, and consequently has little ability as an airborne seed for traveling any distance from the parent plant.
After the flowering period two new shoots appear at the base of the inflorescence in the center cup. These can be left and you will have a giant, double plant, or a separation can be made. Very small seedling-like offshoots will also appear at the base of the leaves.
The plant does remind one of V. splendens to which it is closely related. V. glutinosa is much larger, of course, and does, not have quite as distinct leaf markings as V. splendens.
Vriesea glutinosa is a really handsome specimen for any collection.
— Rt. 2, Box 491, Orlando, Fla.
ADDA ABENDROTHN MY ACCOUNT of the various Aechmea fasciata forms I have in cultivation, I did not say that I own also a few specimens of the European variety. They never looked very well, however, and I thought they were not thriving. Of late, though, the largest of my specimens has surprised me with its striking appearance. It looks as though it were covered with snow.
It grew comparatively fast during the last few months and is now about twelve inches high, a slender funnel of six even and well-developed leaves, beautifully proportioned. The leaves are densely covered with a thick coat of furry white scales. The underlying coloring — pale green and yellow shows only on the upper half of the leaf blades. In that area is also a suggestion of whitish crossbands. A few very dark narrow lines cross the lower back of the outer leaves. Other than the six inner leaves there are two smaller outer ones, pale rose, drying up.
In our native forms the scales seem to be of a different nature. They look smaller, flatter, more adherent, and sit in a crossband pattern on clear, very dark red, rose, or green underground that occupies a much larger area than the design.
I raised my plants from seed sent to me by Dr. Richard Oeser of Germany in 1956. Germination was good, but many of the plantlets died within the first two years. Six survived but did not thrive. Their original pale green changed to an assembly of little spots of all colors except blue, dimmed by an invisible veil. I moved the little plants from leafmold to chopped fern, from an earthen pot to a fern pot, tried them on a live orange limb, and finally moved them to fern slabs placed on the lawn in half shade, which seemed to be the best. The plants made offshoots while still young, but several of these died. They never reached more than four or five inches at the most and always had that blotchy look with never a trace of scales. I thought the plants were sick — perhaps homesick.
—Teresopolis, R. J., Brazil.
ROGER K. TAYLORRIALS THAT DON'T TURN OUT AS HOPED or expected, though less satisfying to the experimenter, can still be instructive. Accordingly, for what they may be worth as a guide to others, I present the following accounts: A Vriesea fenestralis had grown rather large for our limited space. I'd had in mind I could check its growth by inducing bloom with acetylene, but the treatment was without effect. Later, I did succeed in stopping the growth: first pouring a Fermate suspension into the cup to prevent damage by fungus, I thrust a pointed glass rod into the center to crush the growing tip. My expectation was that I would get a group of offsets around the base; instead, a single one near the center, as with Vriesea splendens, is now developing.
I've about concluded that Nidulariums of the innocentii group are not very satisfactory house plants, at least under the conditions we can provide. Not always, but often, tips and edges of the leaves turn yellow and flabby. The crucial factor seems to be humidity; in a greenhouse, under comparable light and temperature conditions, on these same plants the new growth is firm and of much better color. Much the same has been observed with Guzmanias, magnifica and lingulata splendens; musaica also, in the greenhouse, is actively growing whereas in the home it did very poorly. I suspect that too low humidity is also responsible for our lack of success with Cryptanthus.
The suggestion has been made, in the Bulletin, that when the inner leaves of plants become entangled, they may be cut down through the middle and the halves laid flat on the growing medium, to produce offsets. I've tried it once or twice and the plants simply died. Maybe better growing conditions are needed, for success with this technique.
After proving, as reported some time ago in the Bulletin, that stolons bear latent lateral buds that may develop when the growing tip is removed, I suggested the possibility that decapitating the stolons on Aechmea chantinii might give more rapid propagation with this species. I’ve since had an opportunity to try it; it didn't work. The stub remained alive for a long period, but showed no sign; of further growth after the tip was taken off. Before abandoning the idea entirely, I'd like to try this again some time after the plant has bloomed, as there is then, so to speak, more pressure to produce basal growth.
Two offsets on Aechmea chantinii (the self-sterile one, long in cultivation) developed roots while quite small. I removed and planted them in the usual medium and lost them both; the presence of roots is no absolute guarantee of success. Next time I'll either plant them first in sphagnum moss, or wait until they're considerably larger before removal. Ironically, an offset of one of the plants from the wild, now so readily available, started without difficulty.
— 3122 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 18. Maryland.
LTHOUGH BROMELIADS ARE AMONG THE TOUGHEST of house-plants, those grown in the home or apartment need more light than most persons realize. In the northern part of the United States, usually any window with a screen or curtain gives adequate light during the summer months. In the winter, however, a window with a southern exposure and no screen is best. In the South, bromeliads may be given more shade. If your bromeliads can be put outside during the late spring, summer, and early fall, they will benefit. A lath house or a space under a tree with early morning sun is about right.
Let us improve our cultural practices and become really good growers. To do this, we should try not to make the same mistake twice. For example, if we kept our bromeliads too wet during the cold months last winter, let's see that our plants are a little drier during these next few months. If we did not give our plants sufficient light last year, let us remedy this situation in 1963. If we were lax about fertilizing, let us resolve to do better from now on.
Most water softeners used in the home substitute sodium for calcium. The water from these softeners should not be used on bromeliads.
Many of us who grow rare tropicals do not give our plants, and bromeliads especially, sufficient light for maximum growth and flowering. We control the temperature with a thermostat, control the humidity, and measure the fertilizer, but only guess as to the amount of light our plants are getting. General Electric has just introduced a new light meter (Type 213) that gives accurate and direct readings from 5 to 5,000 foot-candles of light. The price is about $25.00.
Algae on the inside of the greenhouse glass is not only an eyesore but is a means of cutting off much needed light. A strong stream of water will remove most of the algae, as will the use of detergents. If the algae persists mix a quaternary ammonia compound, such as Roccal, Winthrop, one part to five to ten parts of water. Scrub with the solution, using a long handled brush. Many members tell us that they are having good luck with plastic pots and are using them instead of the old-fashioned clay pots. If you are using both kinds of pots, watch your watering. There can be a large difference in the porosity of pots. Some clay pots are very porous and dry out rapidly. Others are fired very hard and dry out slowly. Plastic pots hold the moisture about twice as long as does the average clay pot. If you are using more than one kind of pot, keep each kind separate and govern your watering accordingly.
Cleaning clay pots is always a chore, but this job can be made much easier if you soak them in a solution of Clorox, Purex, or a similar preparation for a day or so before you start scrubbing them.
Several members have written that they are growing their bromeliads in little indoor glasshouses or Wardian cases. For a number of years this was considered the only way that a person could raise orchids, bromeliads, and other tender plants in the home, but in recent ears it has been found that this way of growing plants has few advantages and many disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that the plants keep too humid and there is not enough air movement. A person can grow bromeliad successfully in most homes on a window sill or on a table near a window. If the room tends to be too dark for successful growing of plants, try using the new Grow-Lux fluorescent lights.
Everyone who starts a collection of plants goes through a period of endeavoring to keep an accurate record of his plants as to when they were purchased, size, price etc. As the collection grows, such bookkeeping tends to become a laborious task and in most times given up completely. Actually, all that is needed is a good label system. Get a label that is large enough to start with, so that you can note on it the date of bloom and the date of repotting. Use a number to designate offshoots, such as, Aechmea fasciata 1, 2, or 3. Colored labels can he used to differentiate between genera or be put on a plant that is available for trading.